That’s right. Superbad is a pro-woman sex comedy. Shocking, I know but it’s true. let me tell you why. Judd Apatow, the cult leader of the resurgence of the sex comedy (well, since American Pie) gave us 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked-Up and now Superbad. Those of you lucky enough to have actually watched it, Apatow was the mind behind NBC’s short lived but great series Freaks and Geeks.

Every one of his comedies focuses on “losers” who are sex-obsessed and fixated on the “tricks” one needs play in order to get a woman (any woman) to sleep with them. The outset of all of Apatow’s films begin with the clueless and horny dregs of society trying out techniques that half-baked friends, or prevailingly mean-spirited cultural wisdom have advised to “land chicks” with hilarious outcomes. Apatow departs from the sex-comedy template in that his films tend to culminate with a poignant and sober realization that sex is about human relationships and responsibility not just the starry-eyed dream of convincing some woman to touch your penis.

In 40 Year Old Virgin, the Steve Carrell character follows all the misogynistic programs his coworkers subject him to in order to get laid, when he finally learns that it isn’t fear of sex, but fear of love that keeps his man-hymen in tact. In Knocked-Up, Seth Rogan’s plan to get a woman drunk leads to the ultimate responsibility of having a child and the deeper understanding that facing that responsibility is profound and can be fulfilling and, well, funny.

Not to give anything away about Superbad, but the homophobic, totally asinine, sex crazed antics and offensive essentialization of women lead these high school losers to adventure but also to greater truths and an ultimate respect for women and themselves. As Hallmark as that sounds, the dialogue in this movie is still raunchy enough to shock my (comparatively) virginal ears.

Katherine Heigel recently received a lot of press surrounding her statements that she didn’t like Knocked-Up because it didn’t depict women as funny, and while her observation is well taken, I would respond by saying that there are sex comedies from women’s point of view and while, yes I’d like there to be more, it’s not the work of Apatow to write from any POV other than his own. Judd Apatow (and in Superbad, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogan) writes about his experiences or at least aesthetics and if he doesn’t envision women being the object of comedy (instead opting for the Apatow-brand quivering virgins) then, well, okay!

Finally, I find it compelling that Apatow films always cast real looking people. The main guys are either, in reality, the cripplingly awkward nerds we all knew at school (Evan’s sing-songygooodbyeeee!” as the object of his crush walks away is painful on a world of levels), or they are the greatest actors of their generation. More importantly the girls in Superbad are not Shannon Elizabeth-types. They look like girls in highschool. In all of the trumpeting mediocrity that those words evoke, they are the objects of lust for these boys, even when not played by 26 year-old ex-Sports Illustrated models. They are played by, what at least look like, average “pretty” high schoolers. What a revolutionary thought!

The Apatow films are in direct dialogue with the National Lampoon and American Pie comedies. He laughs along with the “immature” sex humor, but does so without failing to see and (more importantly) engage with the deeper implications. Plus- it’s hilarious. Highly recommended.

Advertisements